Group Aiming to Turn Renton into Fashion Industry Hub

Sep 9, 2013

A group of local businesspeople wants to turn Renton into a fashion manufacturing hub.

The Seattle area has the fourth highest concentration of fashion designers in the U.S. behind New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It also has a long history in retail, what with Filson, Nordstrom, and Eddie Bauer based here, just to name a few. 

What's seriously missing, though, is a concentrated supply chain. 

"Fabric suppliers, your notions, your trims, as well as all your manufacturing pattern makers and all of those service providers," says Steven Paul Matsumoto, a local marketing consultant who has launched the Seattle Fashion Incubator. 

Matsumoto has moved into a vacant office building downtown Renton, and put together a group of advisers. His goal is to provide low-cost work space to designers and bring in fashion industry businesses to the vacant downtown core.

Right now, location works against Seattle-area designers. 

"You're not going to find fine fabrics in Seattle. You’re not going to find a lot of the Italian stuff. Unless you have connections, you’re either spending a lot of time on the Internet, or you’re just picking up and moving to be closer to the supply chain," he said.

Creating a garment district here would keep the designers here, says Matsumoto. 

The city of Renton supports the concept, which is just that. No public money has been handed over.

Matsumoto is organizing a regional textile show for the downtown building. Instead of trade booths, he'll use offices to show off wares.